Albert Haynesworth impressed in his press conference today, coming across as confident, humble, and charming — a tough trifecta to pull off.
His comments follow, and a downloadable PDF of the press packet is attached at the end.
“Man, I’ll tell you. I never really thought I’d be here as far as a Redskin. And, you know, actually being a Redskin and … a player [for] a team that my uncle likes. My uncle is a big Redskins fan, and growing up you hear the tradition of it, and to be standing here in this organization with this history and looking to go forward … I mean, it’s amazing. “I’m just excited, and I’m ready to go. I’m ready to play. And what you can expect out of me is what you saw, what I did at Tennessee in those last two years. I mean, like I said, I’ve started a new chapter in my life after my incident, and this is a big chapter and I’m looking forward to keep adding to it.”
On what he’s learned from the mistakes he’s made and how he’s grown:
“Well, you know, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. That’s what my mom said. So, it didn’t kill me. It almost did, but it didn’t kill me, and I feel like I’m stronger from it.
“Y’know, what happened was really a bad day, and it really tested, I guess, my faith as a person in myself, if that makes any sense. Like, I had to really look into myself and to see if I wanted my career to go down the drain, if I wanted all of y’all to remember Albert Haynesworth as a player that kicked somebody in the head, or if I wanted to be remembered as a player that turned around and took his punishment, did what he did, and stepped up and became a great player.
“You know, it’s only two short years past, but I expect to keep taking those steps and kind of covering it up or kicking dirt over it.”
On interest from other teams:
“We looked at a lot of teams and looked at situations, but as far as this team being right there … it really reminded me of coming into the league and being drafted by Tennessee, a team that was 9-7, 8-8, right there on that verge only needing a couple little pieces to put you over that top. You know, you’re looking at it and to actually have a choice to go somewhere … this franchise, the history here, I mean, I definitely want to be a part of it.”
On the influence of Reggie White:
“I want to be Reggie. I definitely do. Just to be in the same sentence — Albert Haynesworth, Reggie White — to be in the same sentence is amazing. And what I’m doing is, I just want to go out here and play ball. Like I tell my agent, everything else’ll take care of itself. I go out there and do what I’m supposed to no matter what else, and it’ll take care of itself.”
On where he’ll find motivation after receiving that much money:
“Well, it’s like the same thing. You’re not going to remember Albert Haynesworth as a bust or the guy who had the Dallas incident or anything. You will remember him as a great player and that’s what I live for.
“You know, the money’s awesome. It’s great. But I’m out here, when I line up in front of somebody, when I put the helmet on, it’s to kick butt and it’s to make sure that guy knows that I’m the best player to play against. After the game or something you can think about the money, but during that game … I’m gonna make sure he knows that I’m the best player. Any team that faces me, they’re gonna have to worry about me.
Zorn: “You kinda want to say ‘Amen, brother’ to that.”
No, seriously, on motivation with that amazing amount of money:
“Yeah, to play a game. I guess it’s from all those years of my mom making me run around the house when I was getting too big and waking me up at six o’clock in the morning to get me ready for the season…. I guess this is a recouping or something like that.
“No, it’s amazing. To play a game that I love and that I’ve played ever since I was six years old … I mean, she put me in and to actually get paid for it is awesome.”
On when the Redskins emerged as a favorite to sign him:
“You know, I always looked at them. They were right there at my top teams I was looking at. Only, I didn’t get to come to the city and see it. You know, I’ve got a lot of family here, but I got a lot of information, I really looked up a whole lot of stuff on the internet and I had my agent do a whole lot of stuff — compared the weather to Nashville, the population of the city, just a ton of stuff that you wouldn’t even believe.
“And after talking to the coaches … I didn’t talk about any money, I was talking to the coaches and seeing ‘How are you going to use me?’ Regardless of the money, I wanted to see how they were going to use me, so I wouldn’t just go someplace and be another guy. I wanted to be that same player, that dominant guy, and if you’re going to use me that way, that’s where I want to go.”
On how he’d like to be used in the defense:
“If you look at my game, I’m a player that goes straight forward. I’m a disruptive player, I take on the double-team, I free up other guys, and that’s what I want to play like. I want to be able to attack my guy, make plays, and everybody to make plays off me. So that’s what I want to do.
“I want to do the same thing I did in Tennessee, but now I’m surrounded by a star-studded cast in my defense here. So I’m just excited, cause it’s gonna be fun and I think we’re gonna win a lot of games. I’m not putting pressure on us, but that’s what I think.”
Zorn: “Amen, brother.”
On how much responsibility is on him:
“Well, I mean with the contract it’s gonna be all on me. My job is, if you don’t see me being really as productive, I’m gonna probably be drawing double-teams and triple-teams and it’s gonna be freeing up our other guys to make plays. So to kind of judge how I’m doing, you can just see how we’re doing as a team and how we’re performing as far as a defense.
“So as long as the defense is performing well … I mean, it’s kind of hard to go up from number four in the league, but it’s a little bit easier to go up in the sack [totals], because other guys can get sacks too.”
On being the most sought-after free agent:
“I wanted to be the best player out there. When I go out on the field and play, I want to be the best player on the field, and my goal is to be the best player on the field, and to eventually get to that Hall of Fame status and be mentioned with Reggie White, Bruce Smith, and all the greats. That’s where I want my name. So coming into this free agency, that’s kind of what happened, but it’s just only the first step.”
On bringing something from Tennessee to the tradition of the Redskins:
“All I really can do is just bring me and who I am, and go out there and play ball and make plays and help my teammates make plays. You know, what I had in Tennessee was great — seven years, we had a lot of fun, I learned a lot of stuff, good and bad. Here I’m just gonna be myself and we’re gonna go out there and play ball like we’ve been playing.”
On what it’s like to be “wooed” by the Redskins:
“Just talking to all the coaches. Our defensive coordinator, our defensive line coach, Coach Zorn … just the whole thing. I just wanted to get a comfortable level with them on the phone. Me, I love to look at people and listen to people and read to see how they’re acting. I can tell a lot of people if they’re telling the truth or not, and [Zorn] was telling the truth.
“I felt comfortable and then when I got up here, you know, I said I wanted to make sure I was comfortable with the whole thing, the whole situation before I signed anything. And that’s why we came in a little late, because I just signed a contract. I met with Mr. Snyder and met with everybody, I’m very comfortable with everybody. It’s totally different here and Tennessee. It’s not like everybody’s separate. Everybody’s together, this is like one big family.”
On how difficult it was to leave Tennessee:
“Well, I consider myself a Tennessean. being there so long — being there since ’99 in Knoxville, and then moving to the Titans in Nashville and playing seven years there. My kids were born there, and I’ll still love Tennessee and I will miss it, but, honestly, I’m kinda looking forward to that fresh step. Because there was a lot of stuff that, no matter what I did I was gonna drag stuff along with me. This is a new place, y’all can get to know me, I’ll get to know y’all, and we’ll go out here and have fun and win games.”
On signing quickly instead of going on a free agency tour:
“One of the teams that was in it was Tampa. I went to the Super Bowl and saw the city, and, really, I study a whole lot as far as the teams and what they were doing. One that was shocking was when they released a lot of players, and then I’m hearing that the GM wanted to kinda rebuild. Well, I’m somewhat young — I’m 27. I’m not that young. So I didn’t want to be really like that. I wanted to be somewhere where we could take the next step and be the organization that’s dominating the NFC East.”
On if Detroit was ever in the picture and what other teams spoke to:
“I always told Schwartz [Jim Schwartz, new Detroit Lions Head Coach and former Titans defensive coordinator] during the year, we’re playing and I guess we were 9-0 and I was looking at Schwartz like, ‘Man, you’re probably going to be the head coach over there.’ I was like, ‘I love you, but I don’t know about Detroit.’
“So I always gave him a hard time about it. I don’t think we even talked to Detroit much. I love Schwartz and if he would have asked me to come I would have had to take a look but here honestly is the best fit for me because I have a lot of players around me.
“There were a bunch of teams. A couple guys in the conference called. I don’t know if they were egging the Skins on or what, but there were a couple guys calling. We didn’t know how serious they were. There were two or three guys that were extremely serious and really throwing a lot out there and my agent handled it well and he put the numbers out there for me. They were almost identical and here is where I chose.”
On why he chose Washington:
“I was just looking at what you got here, as far as your players, your coaches, where you are at as far as an organization. Are they rebuilding or are you a team that has older players that is declining? This team right here is right here, perfect in the middle, add a couple of pieces and we could be right there in Dallas, or Miami, not Dallas. Well, Dallas and Miami actually.”
On what he knew about the team before he started looking at it:
“All I knew, like I was telling people earlier that, when I was growing up and I have family that lives up further north in Pennsylvania, in Philly and I knew my uncle hated the Eagles. I mean, they were getting in fights. So I knew for one thing, I knew that we don’t like the Eagles.”
On what can he do this offseason to get better:
“Really, just keep working and staying in shape and coming in here, learning the system. I don’t know if I really actually learned something these last few years. It’s kind of like fine wine I guess. I just got better. The game kind of slowed down for me. That is the way I see it. Right now it is in play. This year it was in play. I was joking with our other guys in Tennessee, I’m just ready for the game to be kind of in the Matrix, you know where it is all slow and I just dominate.”
On how much he has been able to talk to Greg Blache to get a feel for the defensive scheme and how he would be used:
“Oh we talked a lot and actually when I got here we spent a lot of time together and have been talking and sharing ideas and things as far as I already learned a little bit of their scheme as far as some of their plays and stuff. It is similar to what I had at Tennessee, just some different terminology.”
On spraining his knee and the playoff loss at the end of last season:
“Well first when I did it, I’m not going to lie to you, it hurt like hell. I thought it was a lot worse than what it was. We got the MRI and it came back as a sprain. I have had that before in college so I knew what the rehab was. I knew what the time length was going to be. I really wasn’t concerned once I found out what it was.
“As far as the season with the Titans, I mean it was very disappointing because I feel like we were the best team out there. Too many turnovers are going to cause you not to win that game. When you do that in the playoffs, you just can’t.”
On how healthy he was in the playoffs:
“Honestly, I feel like I was about 95 percent. I felt like about where I was at the beginning of the season. I really didn’t want to wear a brace, but the kind of made me wear the brace, which is good. I felt really good. Our schedule was set up for us to take it all the way because if you look at it we had a bunch of breaks in the middle. We had our bye week, then we had that Thanksgiving Day game then we kept winning, then we got the extra week off. I was really fresh. I was ready to go and ready to go to Tampa.”
On who is favorite member of the Redskins and who has he meshed with:
“Definitely I would have to say Dan Snyder. I talked to a few players. I talked to Clinton [Portis] at the Pro Bowl. I have been texting with [Fred] Smoot a lot. I have met Chris Samuels a couple times. I am just kind of meeting the guys. I am really enjoying it. Everybody I have talked to all said nice things about the organization. Once players get around players they tell the truth and everything they said was positive so that was definitely a big step for me.”
On that impressively large sum of money:
“When my agent called and told me, it was probably like 3:45 in the morning, and I was like, ‘He said whaaaaah?’ It kinda opened my eyes. But we knew kind of what we were looking for, and it kinda all worked out. I’m just astounded.
“But what they wanted me to come here to do is to play football and be disruptive and do what I do, so that’s what I’m coming here to do. When you’re on the field, you’re not thinking about dollar signs or anything like that. You’re just going out there to play.”
On if he feels any pressure from the money:
“Well, yeah, it’s a lot of money, but honestly I put more pressure on myself than what the contract would do. Because I have such high standards for myself that, you know, he could’ve given me half a billion dollars and it still wouldn’t've been the pressure that I put on myself. ‘Cause I expect myself to play at a high level and to dominate, and if I’m not making plays that people around me are making plays.
“So as far as the number, I mean, yeah, it’s great. Like I say, it’s awesome. I mean, don’t get me wrong, but … as far as the pressure? No.”
On playing against Andre Gurode twice a year:
“We actually hung out a lot this year at the Pro bowl. We were kind of in downtown Waikiki together, hanging out and stuff like that, so I don’t think it’s any bad blood between us. I’ve definitely apologized, and I think he’s accepted my apology, but we’re gonna go out there and play hard against each other and show our talents.”
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